Mammalian Target of Rapamycin Mediates Kidney Injury Molecule 1-Dependent Tubule Injury in a Surrogate Model

Wenqing Yin, Said Movahedi Naini, Guochun Chen, Dirk M. Hentschel, Benjamin D. Humphreys, Joseph V. Bonventre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Kidney injury molecule 1 (KIM-1), an epithelial phagocytic receptor, is markedly upregulated in the proximal tubule in various forms of acute and chronic kidney injury in humans and many other species. Whereas acute expression of KIM-1 has adaptive anti-inflammatory effects, chronic expression may be maladaptive in mice. Here, we characterized the zebrafish Kim family, consisting of Kim-1, Kim-3, and Kim-4. Kim-1 was markedly upregulated in kidney after gentamicin-induced injury and had conserved phagocytic activity in zebrafish. Both constitutive and tamoxifen-induced expression of Kim-1 in zebrafish kidney tubules resulted in loss of the tubule brush border, reduced GFR, pericardial edema, and increased mortality. Kim-1-induced kidney injury was associated with reduction of growth of adult fish. Kim-1 expression led to activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, and inhibition of this pathway with rapamycin increased survival. mTOR pathway inhibition in KIM-1-overexpressing transgenic mice also significantly ameliorated serum creatinine level, proteinuria, tubular injury, and kidney inflammation. In conclusion, persistent Kim-1 expression results in chronic kidney damage in zebrafish through a mechanism involving mTOR. This observation predicted the role of the mTOR pathway and the therapeutic efficacy of mTOR-targeted agents in KIM-1-mediated kidney injury and fibrosis in mice, demonstrating the utility of the Kim-1 renal tubule zebrafish models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1943-1957
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology : JASN
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • acute renal failure
  • chronic kidney disease
  • nephrotoxicity


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